DUIs & Prescription Drugs: When They Don’t Mix

It is a well-known fact that driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can impair your driving. Impaired driving is a dangerous act that not only puts you at risk but other roadway users and pedestrians in harm’s way. Many of us have seen numerous advertisements and marketing campaigns focused on the negative impacts of drunk driving. It’s no wonder why the penalties for being charged with a DUI are so hefty, as it’s estimated that 28 people die every day as a result of drunk driving crashes.

Additionally, many of us know of people or have been involved in an accident that was caused by impaired driving, which in turn has made us all more responsible and cautious drivers-for the most part. However, there are some instances of impaired driving that are a result of a person taking a medication that affected their physical and neurological functions much in the same way that alcohol or certain illegal drugs affect our bodies. Even over-the-counter medications like antihistamines have been known to impair drivers; making them a danger to themselves and others. 

If you have been pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving and are found to be completely “sober” but are still displaying signs of impairment, the officer that pulled you over may take you in to be further questioned, along with running a blood or urine sample to determine if any drugs are in your system at the time of the arrest. Depending on the results from this test, you could be charged with a DUI in Springfield. 

Understanding what medications can cause impairment while driving will help you avoid the above scenario. Read on to find information regarding how medications as well as, which medications can cause impaired driving.  

If you have already found yourself in a legal situation and need help getting out, DWI Springfield can help you fight your DUI charges. Call us to schedule an initial consultation for DUI legal advice at no cost to you.

How Medications Can Impair Your Driving

weekly medication holder

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) physician-prescribed medications and some over the counter medicines can cause the following side effects, which in turn, can impair driving:

  • sleepiness/drowsiness
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • slowed movement
  • fainting
  • inability to focus or pay attention
  • nausea
  • Excitability

Various factors can weigh into whether a person will be charged in Springfield with a DWI for merely taking over the counter or prescribed medications. To be safe, we’ll take a look into what types of medications should be avoided before operating a vehicle. 

Many of the following medications clearly state on the bottle that they will either impair driving or that you should not operate heavy machinery while on that particular medication. 

The reason we bring this up is that ignorance, claiming that you did not know you couldn’t drive while on that particular medication, is not a legal defense, even if it’s true that you were unaware. This is why it’s crucial to your case to discuss your legal options with an experienced attorney at DWI Springfield for DUI charges. 

Medications To Avoid While Driving

police officer administering field sobriety test to a woman

Over the counter and prescription drugs that should be avoided before and while operating a motor vehicle or any heavy machinery include, but are not limited to:

  • Antihistamines (Allergy Medicine) – Even though there are more non-drowsy antihistamines available to people who suffer from allergies more than ever, it’s still important to read the label to make sure you are using a non-drowsy formula if you plan on driving that day. According to this article from Huffpost.com, some non-drowsy antihistamines include Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra.
  • Pain Relievers – Pain relievers, especially opiates, have been known to cause the muscles to relax, thus delaying reaction time and causing sleepiness, disorientation, and dizziness. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are safe bets if taken correctly. However, once the active ingredients have worn off, you may notice that your body will either tense up or you may feel exhausted, both of which are not ideal states for driving. 
  • Sleep Aids – For obvious reasons, all sleep aids, including over the counter, prescription and nighttime cold medicines, should always be avoided when operating a motor vehicle. 
  • Antidepressants – Many antidepressants such as Trazodone can cause drowsiness, while SSRI depressants like Lexapro can cause insomnia, which could adversely affect your “awakeness” during the daytime. If you’re able to, when starting this type of medication, make a plan to have other ways of transportation to see how the medication specifically affects you. 
  • Antianxiety Medications – These types of drugs, such as Xanax can subdue the muscles, impair judgment and may even cause hallucinations. 
  • Stimulants – Conversely, drugs that stimulate the body and mind and are even used to awaken someone so that they can “finish a long drive,” like an energy drink or medication, have been known to make people less likely to pay attention to details. A necessary attribute for proper driving. 

What You Can Do To Avoid DUI Charges in Springfield 

As you may notice, some of the drugs described above are necessary for some people to function daily. Does this mean you can’t ever drive again if you take allergy medicine or were prescribed anti-anxiety medicine? Not at all. To protect yourself against a potential accident or Springfield DUI charge, discuss the medications you’re taking with your doctor and only take the recommended dosage.

Furthermore, never mix alcohol with a prescription or over the counter medications. The results can be deadly.


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